The Overnighters Screen 20 articles

The Overnighters


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  • As Adam and Michael have both suggested, The Overnighters is by no means a disaster. If anything, it’s the opposite: so finely crafted as to feel manufactured. In fact, certain scenes testify to directorial manipulation—not in and of itself a verboten act, by any means, but troubling in the way that the film refuses to explicitly acknowledge it.

  • I've thought a lot about this since seeing The Overnighters, partly because my reactions to the film diverged substantially from those of many of my respected peers. But also, if I am being honest, I was very much taken with Moss's profile of Rev. Jay Reinke and his beleaguered North Dakota church, at least while I was watching it. It was only upon further reflection that I started to doubt the full extent of my admiration...

  • Moss, who shoots the film himself verité-style, gets points for his on-the-ground look at the sacrifices made by those seeking a living (while leaving families behind) and at the day-to-day problems raised when merciless economic interests come into play. But Moss’s surprise revelation of Reinke’s sexuality and a scandal involving the church’s male guests is simplistic, leaving behind an observant film that suddenly feels incomplete and compromised by its misplaced dramatic goals.

  • Reinke remains the focus, including a late admission of marital infidelity that renders his efforts as a "broken" man more palpable because of his empathy, if contrived due to the detail's 11th-hour emergence. If The Overnighters ultimately can't reconcile all that's presented in its too-brief runtime, that's largely because its situation, much like the dissonance between those involved, is comprehensibly irresolvable.

  • North Dakota oil boom. Sketchy people looking for work. Do-gooder pastor whose Christian charity becomes an obsession. Connect those dots and you get something like this obvious, mildly absorbing documentary, its sincerity slightly compromised by some manipulation.

  • With few exceptions, the movie has a dingy palette that’s familiar from lower-budget, digitally shot movies, and its trembling camerawork is best described as functional. Every so often, Mr. Brice and his team saturate the proceedings with some vivid color, including a sly, playful blue that foreshadows the story’s turn to the frisky and a red that accents a kinky detour.

  • There are rare flights of associative fancy — Halloween revelers in masks stand in image for one migrant who’s a registered sex offender, imagining him as a literal monster — but functional verite camerawork isn’t particularly responsive or detail-oriented, not helped by T. Griffin’s stock of-the-moment score (so much work for banjo players these days). This is the kind of impressive journalism that would play just as well (better, probably) as a long-form article.

  • The Overnighters bears the burden of buzz, and several colleagues voiced objections to it that I can’t disagree with... but these are quibbles when held against Moss’s total accomplishment. I haven’t seen anything this year that resonates like the scene where Reineke, having just been run off a piece of property by a woman wielding a rifle andStand-your-ground law threats, pulls over by the side of the road to wave hello at a passing passenger train.

  • The characters Moss focuses on are complex, intelligent and eccentric—the pastor in particular. Moss edits the nonfiction film as if it were a fast-paced mystery, with a tone somewhere in between Murder She Wrote and Law & Order.

  • Moss is a deliberately unobtrusive presence, and carefully plants the seed that there’s more to Reinke than meets the eye from the very opening scene, when the pastor intones, “The public persona, you can believe that, and the private becomes something else. The result is always pain.” The intrigue builds to a surprising coda which forces a re-engagement with, and a re-evaluation of, everything that’s gone before.

  • The result is arguably intrusive, with the film getting closest to its subject when all his defences are down, but it makes for acute portraiture – and for a sobering depiction of an America in crisis that looks shockingly close to the desperation of the 1930s.

  • Just when it seems The Overnighters is turning into a rote portrait of wounded nobility, the movie takes several unexpected turns. The film goes in directions its makers could never have anticipated, providing the sort of closing note that would make a novelist jealous.

  • The director does admirably well in integrating and foreshadowing an “… and on that bombshell” ending that came to him late in the process, and left him with no clean way of fulfilling his obligations to his subjects and his audience. Unlike many documentaries pushing comparably hot buttons, The Overnighters’s form will remain worth discussing when (if?) some of the urgency of its content burns off.

  • “The Overnighters” is an onion of a movie. Composed of multiple layers — more than one of which might bring tears to your eyes — this shape-shifting documentary begins as one thing and ends as quite another... “It’s easy to become a facade,” Pastor Reinke allows at the beginning of the film. What he becomes, however, is a complex, sometimes prickly good Samaritan who may be using the pain of others to mask his own — a living embodiment of the maxim that no good deed goes unpunished for long.

  • While “The Overnighters” has the feel of an epic, given what an expansive slice of America’s current economic experience it ponders, it’s also a very intimate one. Moss stayed with the Overnighters himself (partly because he couldn’t afford Williston’s inflated hotel prices) and was granted an extraordinary degree of access to the Reinke family. This makes for a film as rich emotionally as it is enlightening regarding the challenges facing people struggling to make a living.

  • Moss went to North Dakota to make a film about migrant workers and ended up finding something entirely unexpected in pastor Jay Reinke, one of the most complex and mesmeric documentary subjects ever filmed. The Overnighters in many ways is a record of a filmmaker trying to make sense of what he captured; a powerful, emotionally involving and thoroughly stunning embodiment of the notion that nonfiction filmmaking is something akin to lion taming.

  • Moss, thinking Jay might develop into a key character in a film that was to center around the story of the oil boom in North Dakota and its various environmental and human-scale fallouts, ended up making a heartrending, dramatic and, at times, uncomfortably intimate portrait of one man in spiritual crisis.

  • Affectionate is perhaps the key word when it comes to The Overnight, a film whose over-the-top humor remains firmly grounded in the purest of emotional intentions. Much of this hinges on Schwartzman’s performance as Kurt.

  • The Overnight feels like a synthesis of Apatovian sex comedy and '70s softcore porn. While that might seem unusual or even contradictory, it works. What's more, it's far less hypocritical than the likes of The Interview, whose supposedly heterosexual heroes spend five minutes trying to stick phallic objects up their butts.

  • Clocking in at just 80 minutes, Brice’s feature is all killer, no filler, punching out joke after joke without unnecessary Apatow-esque exposition or falling for their specific brand of tweeness. Also on show is Brice’s signature creative mark, his astute understanding of how to create an uncomfortable sense of social awkwardness on-screen.

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